As Jogo do Pau evolved, speed increased, and its defensive footwork became centred around in-line stepping.
That wasn't always so, as sidesteps on defence were common at one time.
Plus, they also had they own evolution ... consisting of the following 3 stages.
|Standard starting position|
(Forearms not overlapping)
Instinctive privileging of stronger side
Setting up a martial skill-set is very much like cooking, it that one needs to find the best possible balance between the available ingredients. In this case, one needs to figure out how to best combine parrying and footwork (side-steps).
|Parry on forehand side Parry on backhand side|
With parries on the forehand side being stronger (more stable), performers' first instinct was to privilege them. Plus, in doing so, it made sense to sidestep to the forehand side, to have the stepping action adding to the parry's stability.
Attempt to apply same solution on the backhand side
The latter defensive strategy worked out well when cornered on the backhand side, and thus forcefully having to step to the forehand side.
|Cornered on the backhand side|
You can see what's coming next, in that someone eventually got trapped on the forehand side, thus forced to step to the backhand side.
|Cornered on the forehand side|
|Step to the backhand side, |
with forehand side parry
The initial recipe "martial chefs" put together focused on performing the parries on forehand side. Doing so brought, however, one problem, in that moving away from the corner needed two steps (which was, obviously, quite slow).
Reversal of the critical component
This new challenge brought about the need to reverse the cooking recipe, in the sense of having footwork dictating parrying.
|Side step & parry towards the backhand side|
Doing so, while also using the kinetic energy from the displacement to fuel the parries, prompted the use of parries on the backhand side.
All in all, when side stepping (in order to move away from a cornered scenario) one needs to displace the body onto the displaced leg. This, in turn, means that footwork determines parrying, with parries on the forehand side being used when moving the forehand side, and parries on the backhand side when moving to the opposite side.
And, of course, all of this from the basic premise that side-stepping on defence should be performed with the lead leg.
(for doing so with the back leg leaves the lead within the opponent's reach ... thus, with no safety-net for when parrying fails to intercept incoming strikes)
For further information
Please refer to the DVD on the evolution of Jogo do Pau's skill-set:
From battlefields to dueling: The evolution of Jogo do Pau
"The material covered includes multiple opponents, guard choice, footwork, parries, counterattacks (ripostes) and one-handed staff use. There is also a section on how the study of jogo do pau can be related to the use of the German long sword. All in all, highly recommended."
"The pros and cons of stances and attacks are clearly demonstrated and in addendum illustrated in relation to the German school of the longsword.
If we didn’t already know it: here’s a living history we can profit from."
Alwin Goethals, SWARTA lead instructor
"It is a very well organized and well directed and clear pedagogic work. It covers important aspects of the personal setting and strategies in a combat/duel, such as" how to "read your opponent" in the guard, timing, footwork. Strategies for counter attacks and striking options. I find the methods incorporating all the core principles of fencing, translated into two handed sticks."
Marco Quarta, WMA Instructor